UPDATE: Growing Things

finally managed to get everything together to get my garden in. Planted seedlings this morning, and I’ll go sow some more seeds into the bed later this evening.

Back in March, I posted about staining the wood to make the bed. After a number of weekends/evenings that just wouldn’t work for getting the bed assembled, DH finally asked me why I didn’t just use clamps to hold the wood in place while I drilled?

The answer to that question ended up being that a clamp would run $50 to hold a 90-degree angle, but the gentleman I spoke with at our local Lowe’s (sorry I didn’t get your name!) suggested steel braces instead. These had the added benefit of being permanent, which would keep the wood from wiggling around before I put it in place.


This is a roughly 4×4′ bed.

Yesterday, following the guidelines here, I went and bought a bale of straw from a garden supply store and 100 pounds of composted cow manure, in addition to some seedlings. The eggshell starter cups failed hard, although I’m reasonably sure that was down to poor potting soil and my not having the bed ready in time. I also bought 7 paver stones, because there was a gap between those 2x4s I bolted into the risers and the ground.

I mowed the area under the bed as close as our mower could get it and took the weed-whacker to the long grass up against the foundation, then laid down pages torn from some (very old) phone books in place of the newspaper I didn’t have and gave it a good soaking with the hose. The yellow pages are printed on the same basic type of paper, so I’m not terribly worried about toxins from the colored ink.


The DIY I linked to above recommends seeding the cut grass with lime and blood & bone fertilizer first… but to be honest I had no idea where to find that. Since the purpose was to facilitate composting of the grass below, and since there’s a lot of composting going on in the rest of the bed, I’m thinking it shouldn’t make much of a difference.

Once that was done, I laid down the first layer of straw, and then a layer of cow manure.


This is around the time I realized I was going to need another 2 bags of the stuff. Quick trip to Lowe’s to remedy that, and I picked up a couple extra cucumber plants and some lettuce while I was there.  The bucket in the middle is another idea I got from Pinterest. The guy drilled holes in the bottom of a five-gallon bucket and planted it in the middle of a circle of tomato plants to use as an irrigator. I’m hoping that once the straw breaks down mine will do the same, but at the moment water just runs right through.


Had some kitchen leavings (largely eggshells and coffee grounds) and some grass clippings saved for just this purpose. Gave it a good soaking after every layer. While I was watering in the straw layers, I actually walked on it a bit to crush the eggshells.

It was nearly ten by the time I finished this last night, so the actual planting waited for this morning.

I may head back to the store for more seedlings later, or I may scatter seeds in that front portion. Not honestly sure, yet. On the left edge I have spinach, the right edge has romaine lettuce, and the tomatoes and cucumbers are circling the irrigator. I’ll be picking up tomato cages for those next time I go to the store.

Now to figure out what to do with a third of a bale of straw. I’m thinking of mulching our trees and front flower bed with it, but the flower bed is in desperate need of having its irises divided.

  1. dimple Avatar

    Very nice! As I read about your bucket, I thought: put some kitchen leavings (And manure!) in the bottom of the bucket. Should slow the water down and fertilize with manure tea in the process…

    Remember the bathtub horse trough? We moved it closer to the house, and I put some 12″ containers on upturned throw away nursery pots, filled them with compost & potting soil, and planted carrots, kale, basil, & marjoram. I hope the deer don’t like those! Anyway, we’ll see how things work…

    I guess I should take some pictures. 🙂

    1. allene Avatar

      Ooh, good plan! I may need to buy another bag of manure for that, but in the meantime it’s a good place for coffee grounds, etc.

  2. allene Avatar

    Just FYI, adding grass clippings to the mulch mix was not my brightest plan. There were still some live seeds in there, so now I’m weeding out stalks of grass (thankfully not many, at least not yet.)

  3. dimple Avatar

    Weeds are ubiquitous, and grass is the main weed in a vegetable garden. Keep on pulling!
    My seeds sprouted–I have lots of basil sprouts, and HAD lots of marjoram, some carrots, and a few kale (two, to be precise!) but something has gotten into the marjoram and carrots. Maybe they damped off, I’m not sure. Anyhow, we’ll see. I can still buy petunias to put in…

    1. allene Avatar

      Of all the seeds I scattered in the front part of the bed, I have one bush bean and two radishes (I think) that sprouted. Going to try more lettuce seeds again soon, I think. Oh, and those spinach seedlings are not liking all that sun, although the romaine is doing great.

      1. dimple Avatar

        The few times I planted spinach, I had no success. But last year I bought some from a man with a truck garden just down Talache Road. It had bolted, but there were good leaves all up the stalk which he picked and I ate! I need to see if he’s got anything this year.

        1. allene Avatar

          How does one tell when a plant has bolted? I mean, conceptually I know what it means, I just have never figured out what that looks like.

          1. dimple Avatar

            It sends up a flower stalk…this is for plants that have leaves growing in some sort of cluster, like a radish or carrot. When they bolt, a taller, thicker stalk grows up, and if you let it, it will blossom and set seed.

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